I have been on a food preservation kick for the last little while. I recieved a dehydrator for Christmas 2007 and I love it. It is a L'Equip dehydrator with 6 racks. I've made jerky and a few dried fruits over the last year or so. I had some left over cranberries from Thanksgiving (about 2 pounds) and had no idea what to do with them, so I tried my hand at dehydrating. I searched online and in my cookbooks and could only find one semi-reliable recipe for drying cranberries. Here it is with my notes and comments throughout.
These turned out pretty well for the most part. They are still on the tart side, definately not as sweet as the Ocean Spray Craisins you can purchase at Costco, but still quite good. They are also much more sticky and it was bit of a pain to remove them from the drying racks. Next time I think I may not let them sit in the water for so long (pull them out just as they pop) and I'll let them cool before trying to make sure they are all popped.
Have you ever tried drying cranberries? Any tips or ideas would help.
Prep Time: 10 minutes (it took me about 20 mintues between picking over and removing the bad ones and getting them cooked a bit in the boiling syrup)
Cook Time: ~8 hours (I had to cook mine for about 18)
· 1 bag (12 oz) fresh whole cranberries
· 1 C sugar (or sugar substitute of your choice)
· 1/2 C water
Preheat oven to 200 F (or turn your dehydrator on high)
1. Put cranberries in large skillet, and pick through to remove soft and/or brown ones.
2. If sweetener is powdered, dissolve in water. (comparison of sources of "liquid Splenda"). Pour over cranberries and stir.
3. Heat on medium high until cranberries pop, about 4-5 minutes. Stir every minute or two. When all seem popped, turn off the burner and let them cool for 10 minutes. (If you heat the syrup before hand the cranberries will cook faster)
4. Squish them down with the back of a large spoon. Don't worry if it seems they are melding together. Let cool another 5 minutes or so.
5. Cover baking sheet with three layers of paper towels and a piece of parchment paper. If using a food dehydrator lightly spray trays with cooking oil.
6. Spread cranberries on the parchment or tray. If unpopped ones remain, squish them down now.
7. Put in oven and turn heat down to 150 F. Leave your dehydrator set at about 150 F.
8. In 2-4 hours, replace parchment and flip paper towels over. (You don't have to do this, but it speeds up the process.) If you are working with a dehydrator, just let them sit.
9. Start checking after 6 hours. Total time depends upon humidity and other factors. It usually takes me about 8 hours. It also depends on whether you want to dry them to the point where they still have some "give" or whether you like them "crispier". (It took me about 18 hours to dry them to the point where they were leathery with a little give)
10. Separate them, and store covered (zip-type bags or a food saver works as well).